Skizzen für Siegbert was commissioned by Hartmut Rohde for the 2012 International Max Rostal Competition through the generous financial support of the Forberg-Schneider Foundation. It was premiered in Berlin on 26th March, 2012 as the compulsory work of the opening round of the Max Rostal Viola Competition.
The very first time I ever played in the viola section of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, I was lucky to sit at the same desk as the long-standing and warmly respected Philharmonic violist, Siegbert Ueberschaer. Already in the opening bars of Dvorak’s Stabat Mater I fell foul of the legendary late response time of the orchestra and came in right on the downbeat - as years of orchestral training in Australia had taught me. Siegbert kindly, knowingly, looked at me and said, „Just play with me, breathe with me, as if we were playing chamber music." Siegbert’s guiding hand and subtle yet compelling body language while playing helped me recognize something fundamental about the orchestra’s very particular mechanics and an enduring friendship followed, imbued with his generous spirit and good humour.
Siegbert Ueberschaer passed away in 2011. As this work was commissioned as the set-piece for a viola competition, I endeavoured to write a work that fulfilled a dual purpose: of both honouring Siegbert’s memory with music for his (and my) beloved instrument while at the same time providing a suitable test piece for an ambitious group of gifted young viola players. Its outer movements, reflective and lamentoso in character, therefore bookend a centrally placed, virtuosic moto perpetuo movement of unrelenting drive.
© Brett Dean, 2013